Party boys face sober reality

20 April 2012

Australian Financial Review, Australia

20 April 2012, by Kerry Brown

Review, page 3

The Australian Financial Review has published an op-ed in its Review section by Kerry Brown, who will take up the role of Professor and Executive Director of the China Studies Centre later this year. In it he analyses the next Party Congress for the Communist Party of the People's Republic of China, in which about 2000 carefully selected delegates from across the country will assemble in Beijing and do two things: assess the progress of the party and the country since the last Congress in 2007; and more importantly, elect a new Central Committee of 200 full, and 150 alternate members, a new Politburo of about 24 members, and, most crucially of all, a new Standing Committee of nine (possibly 11) members.

At the conclusion of the article he writes: "The big question is thus not about party members' abilities, but their political will. The unifying factor is their being completely creatures of the party system. They owe all they have to it. They have never had to step outside the structures the party provides to look at things differently. They are also operating with more limited political capital than their predecessors. No one doubts their capabilities as economic stewards. But future challenges will be social political, and there, their viewpoints and backgrounds are far harder to assess. And they are taking charge of China at a time when challenges in these areas are coming thick and fast."